A Presidency like no other

words: Mark Porteous, National SAIF President
The SAIF Presidency

This is my last article as National President before the AGM in March. As I look back on my time in office, who would have thought that just one week after becoming your President, we would enter lockdown to try to combat a pandemic which would change the world forever.

I knew then my presidency was going to be different, but I was determined that whatever my role was going to be, I would endeavour to represent SAIF and our members to the very best of my ability, regardless of the circumstances we all found ourselves in.

What was obvious from the start was that the traditional ambassador role the President plays was not going to be possible. Instead, I and my fellow officers Jo Parker and Mark Horton concentrated our efforts on providing advice and support to our CEO Terry Tennens and the SAIF Business Centre. We held regular meetings and discussed at length how best SAIF could assist members.

The first five or so weeks were exceedingly difficult. Government guidance changed daily, but I know from the positive feedback we have received from many members that SAIF was able to give them invaluable support throughout that most challenging time.

The restrictions meant it was going to be difficult to meet members face to face, so I adopted the new norm of carrying out our regional meetings online. I hope the members who joined me at these meetings found them helpful. It was good to speak to others who knew and understood the difficulties and the concerns we were all having to endure.

As the year went on, I was asked if I would consider continuing as President for a second year. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but understood it made sense of course to continue and this was agreed with our CEO, the SAIF Executive and my fellow officers.

Happily, year two allowed me to finally get on the road and so I made it my mission to attend as many regional meetings and meet as many members as I could. It was wonderful to join members in their own premises and to see how dedicated they are to their communities. Furthermore, it was beneficial to see how other Independents work and seeing this at first hand confirmed my belief that the professionalism and standards demonstrated by our SAIF members are second to none.

As I write this article, I have just returned from a Fellows Dinner in Kent where I enjoyed a very enjoyable evening, although our CEO Terry was determined to make sure it was a working dinner! Listening to our Fellows, it was obvious to me that their extensive experience and knowledge is invaluable to our association. I am sure they will forgive me for saying none of them are getting any younger and it would be a travesty to allow their wisdom and knowledge to be lost to future generations.

Thus I have encouraged them to write down their experiences and record the history of our great association. There’s no pressure on any of them of course and in particular for Clive Leverton, who inadvertently has possibly put himself forward to create a book, without him realising it! Should he choose to accept this mission, I am sure Clive will call upon others to assist and I look forward to reading The History of SAIF.

The following morning, I had an early start as I was carrying out my final engagement as SAIF President back in my home city of Edinburgh. Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, was planting a cherry tree in the grounds of one of my local crematoriums, dedicated to all crematoria staff and funeral directors who have worked tirelessly through the last two years. It was a fitting end to my Presidency – not only meeting royalty, but the fact that our efforts have been recognised and acknowledged is something we should all be proud of.

For me, the next few weeks are going to be hectic as I finalise the arrangements for the AGM and Banquet in March. The event will be held at the Dalmahoy Country Club, only 10 minutes away from Edinburgh Airport and about a 20-minute drive from the railway station, with plenty of parking available at the venue. I would also like to remind you again that my chosen charity is Winston’s Wish, and it is not too late to donate – just contact the SAIF Business Centre for details.

May I thank you all for your support in the last two years. I wish my successor Jo Parker all the very best for her year in office and

I hope to see you all in Edinburgh.

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